Garin Bjorklund knows he was drafted to the right place.
The 15-year-old Calgary Bisons goaltender was selected by the Medicine Hat Tigers at 21st overall in the WHL bantam draft last week and stands a considerable chance to crack the roster in the 2018-19 season. While he’s still riding high on the emotions of being a first-round pick, his dream isn’t at the draft table — it’s on the ice.
“Oh, that’s the goal right now. That’s where my head’s at,” said Bjorklund. “That’s where I want to play as a 16-year-old, but if it doesn’t work out there’s always the next year. I’m just happy to be drafted right but if it does work out that I get to play there as a 16-year-old it’ll be a dream come true.”
Tigers goaltender Michael Bullion and Nick Schneider are both entering their overage seasons and only Duncan McGovern is waiting in the wings. Medicine Hat had another goaltending prospect in the form of Rylan Rommelaere, but the Boissevain, Man. product opted to step away from the game last summer, leaving the door open for Bjorklund when he turns 16.
Bjorklund considers himself a butterfly goaltender and says one of his strongest skills in his speed between the posts. But Bjorklund wasn’t always a goalie. In fact, he used to share the blue line with first overall pick Kaiden Guhle, now property of the Prince Albert Raiders.
“Me and him used to be D partners, ever since atom,” said Bjorklund. “So we were good friends and ever since atom, but then I started playing goal and I’ve had my brother shoot on me ever since.”
The 5-foot-11, 147-pound netminder is coming off a stellar season with the Bisons. After logging a 1.97 goals against average and a .918 save percentage through 24 games, Bjorklund was named the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s goaltender of the year. His numbers barely budged in the post-season, helping his team to the regional finals with a 2.19 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
“I didn’t realize I would go in the first round to the Medicine Hat Tigers, but when they called my name it was a surreal moment. My family celebrated with me, it was a good day,” said Bjorklund. “I’d like to thank the Tigers for letting me be part of their organization. I’d like to thank my mom and dad for always believing in me, giving me a chance to play what I want to play and driving me to the rink all the time.”
Bjorklund’s draft day got even better in the 10th round, when he realized he wouldn’t be the only Bison at Tigers training camp. Medicine Hat used the 217th overall pick on Bjorklund’s teammate and Bisons MVP Stephen Rosier, and the pair even got the chance to celebrate together that evening.
“It was awesome. We had our Bisons banquet (recently) too, so taking the top goalie and the team MVP, it’s just awesome,” said Bjorklund. “I saw him and we got a picture together and we hope one day we can play with each other.”